Anita May Burlingame Ferguson, 91, a longtime resident of Pompano Beach, Florida and Chautauqua, New York, passed away on Oct. 27, 2020, with loving family by her side at her daughter Grace’s home in Cornelius, North Carolina.
She was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts to the late Esther Bellini and Leslie Burlingame. Her early life was filled with the music of her operatic family, which influenced her own piano brilliance, which reigned her life. She graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in music from Bethany College where she met her husband Chick.
While raising their three children in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, Anita taught piano, played the organ, served as a sought-after accompanist and arranger, was editor of numerous publications and was an active board member of Tuesday Musicale.
After Chick and Anita moved to Florida, she continued teaching, performing and accompanying, and she enjoyed her roles as President of Morning Musicale of Fort Lauderdale and Elder of First Presbyterian Church. She retired from teaching after 50 years, and she and Chick moved to John Knox Village in Pompano Beach where she was the beloved director of the Chapel Choir and accompanist for the Villagers Men’s Chorus.
A lifelong artist, she painted hundreds of watercolors and oils and displayed her work in art shows at John Knox.
The Ferguson family bought the Log Cabin on Peck Avenue in Chautauqua in 1967, and Anita had another full life each summer as board member and treasurer of the Chautauqua Women’s Club and where she and her sister June funded a voice scholarship in memory of their mother, Esther Bellini. Anita was a founding member of the Wensley House, a 1974 CLSC graduate, pianist for Sunday services for several denominational houses, and accompanist for weddings and memorials at the Hall of Philosophy.
Anita’s crowning achievement was as matriarch of an ever-growing family who gathered each summer for her delicious meals, homemade apple sauce and always lively conversation. She is survived and lovingly remembered by her children, Charles Jr. (Ramona) of Plainfield, New Jersey, David (Diana) of Bradford, Pennsylvania and Grace (Donald) Zarou of Cornelius, North Carolina; six grandchildren, Loren (Emily), Grant (Elizabeth), Sarah, Maxwell, Eleanore and Adam (Kaitlin); her great-granddaughter, Edie; her sister, June of San Pedro, California.
The family held a private memorial service on Nov. 7, 2020, at Davidson College Presbyterian Church and will gather at Chautauqua Cemetery in July 2021 where Anita will join her husband Charles Allen Ferguson in eternal rest. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Chautauqua Woman’s Club Scholarship Fund.